European Court to rule on UK religious discrimination cases

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The European Court of Human Rights will announce its judgement on Tuesday 15 January on whether the UK Government failed to protect the human rights of four British Christians.

In all four cases Christian applicants complained that UK law does not sufficiently protect their rights to freedom of religion and freedom from discrimination at work.

In recent years, UK equality laws have been criticised for lessening the rights of Christians, and the European Court in Strasbourg considered four landmark cases at a hearing in September last year.

The longest running of these is the case of Lillian Ladele, a Christian registrar who says she was pushed out of her job at Islington Council because of her stance on civil partnerships.

Two of the cases relate to Christians who were told they could not wear a cross in the workplace, while the remaining case involves a relationship counsellor who said he did not wish to provide gay sex therapy.

The UK Government battled the four cases at the European Court, arguing that Christians should leave their faith at home or they may have to consider alternative employment.

The National Secular Society has opposed the cases, arguing that the UK courts were correct to reject the four claims.

Keith Porteous Wood, Executive Director of the National Secular Society, said:

“Any changes to the law to increase religious accommodation — as most if not all other interveners are calling for — stands the risk of seriously undermining UK equality law.”

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